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Press Releases: Don’t Write One-Size-Fits-All

Author: Joan Stewart   |   September 28th, 2009

When you write a news release, do you write different versions of the same release – emphasizing different things in the first paragraph – depending on what media outlet you’re sending it to?

Smart publicity hounds do. They want every magazine editor to read their releases andsay, “Aha! This is perfect for our audience!” Yet too few people bother with different versions. They send the same old one-size-fits-all vanilla release to everyone on their media list, even though those media may be very different.

What a mistake.

I was reminded of this last week when my friend Don Crowther, who sells corporate gift baskets online, told me he was subscribing to The Gift List, a service that provides names and contact information for more than 250 publications and broadcast outlets that are planning special holiday gift sections or features. Don thinks his gift baskets would be a perfect fit in these sections.

I agree.

But he was in quandary about how to write the news release. His baskets include top-quality gourmet chocolate, candy and coffees packed in a variety of containers.

Shoppers who visit his website will find a Whitewashed Birdhouse for gardeners. Or the red Radio Flyer Wagon for a favorite kid, or a kid at heart. The antique lover on your gift list might love the antique-looking sea trunk made of solid wood with leather trimmed straps that snap closed.

There’s even The Hidden Clock, an accent piece that serves a practical purpose: as a clock and as an attractive storage container. The embossed metal container sits on curved legs. When you lift the lid, the clock appears to hold the lid open.

I told Don he can take the easy way out with one news release for everyone. “But don’t expect much response from the media,” I said. “Editors don’t want to wade through a long list of gifts to see if there’s one that will fit the needs of their audience, then rewrite the release.”

If he really wants to impress editors, he should send a release about the Whitewashed Birdhouse gift basket, along with a photo, to gardening and bird magazines. Send a news release highlighting the Radio Flyer wagon, and a photo, to kids’ publications and parenting magazines. A release describing the antique looking sea trunk can be sent to magazines devoted to boats, travel, the outdoors, and so on.

The next time you’re tempted to write one news release for everyone, ask yourself if there are certain elements of your product, service, cause, issue or event that should be highlighted for certain publications. The extra time it takes to write one more release, or several more, will be well worth it.

I’m starting to see lots of queries online from editors and reporters who are writing articles for holiday gift guides, so this is the ideal time to pitch. Getting your product mentioned in these guides is often far easier than convincing an editor to feature it in any other story or section.


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